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  • Clinical hypnotherapy: an increasingly popular treatment modality

    Author: Haley Williams

The adjunct of hypnotherapy is becoming increasingly popular as a clinical treatment modality in psychotherapy. When performed by a clinical hypnotherapist, hypnosis employs focus and concentration to help treat many conditions, including anxiety, addiction, insomnia and phobias.

Executive Officer of the Australian Society of Hypnosis, Ann Wilson, said allied health professionals use the term hypnotherapy to describe clinical treatment using the natural state of trance.

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“It can be an effective tool for a therapist to incorporate into more standard conventional therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and research has shown that CBT combined with hypnosis is more effective than CBT alone,” said Ms Wilson.

Dr Karen Phillips, a clinical hypnotherapist, said after ten years as a counselling psychotherapist, she trained in hypnotherapy because her clients were taking too long to see improvements with other treatments, such as CBT.

“I wanted to enable clients to improve faster than with CBT, so I completed a two-year Diploma of Clinical Hypnotherapy from one of the few VETAB accredited trainers,” said Dr Phillips.


“Clients love that I work as a hypnotherapist. They enjoy the relaxation and are amazed at the accelerated improvements.”

Anyone can benefit from hypnotherapy, said Dr Phillips, but those suffering from trauma, pain, or habitual behaviours that they want to move past will find this therapy most useful.

“Hypnotherapy aids the mind to be more receptive to positive suggestion while releasing negative feelings. It aids the mind to rapidly integrate new skills, strategies and strengths through subconscious change.

“Clients who don’t want change or those blocking any suggestion of change, won’t respond to hypnotherapy.

“Hypnotherapy cannot make a person do anything they do not want to do,” said Dr Phillips.

Any therapist or psychologist who adds hypnotherapy to their repertoire would benefit their clients, said Dr Phillips, as it expedites recovery and empowers the individual faster and more deeply than standard CBT and talk therapies. 

Clinical Psychologist Dr Janet Hall said her interest in hypnotherapy began before she trained as a psychologist after being a participant in stage hypnosis.

“I used to spend time in the university library devouring academic hypnosis journals instead of doing my psychological studies,” said Dr Hall.

As a result, Dr Hall trained as a clinical hypnotherapist with the Australian Hypnosis Society, which involved a rigorous academic and practical study program spanning two years and over fifty hours of professional supervision with an emphasis on the ethical use of hypnosis for therapy.

Anyone willing to trust the power of the subconscious mind will be receptive to hypnotherapy as treatment, said Dr Hall.

“About 10 per cent of the population are unlikely subjects for hypnosis.
These folks are unwilling to ‘lose control’ and trust their hypnotherapist.

“The main advantage of hypnotic techniques used by a trained professional is to help people tap into the power of their own mind in a fast, easy way so that they can achieve two main benefits: to remove, avoid or overcome the pain of problems, and to motivate, accelerate and achieve success.” said Dr Hall.

Helping clients to accelerate their personal growth and achieve greater success are the most important reasons to add hypnotherapy to psychological treatment, said Dr Hall.

A chance meeting with a clinical hypnotherapist while working for the Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria piqued psychology graduate Abbey Robb’s interest in the field.

Ms Robb said she was drawn to hypnotherapy because it offered a different psychological model to traditional treatments. 

“There is mounting neurobiological evidence that shows the more we repeat something, the more imprinted it becomes. So, the psychological methods of talking about events and gaining rational understanding seemed to me to be somewhat ineffective.

“Hypnotherapy is a ‘quick’ therapy, unlike psychoanalysis which can take years or CBT which can take six months. Clients can start feeling better in just one or two sessions,” said Ms Robb.

Hypnotherapy isn’t recommended for clients with psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis or bipolar disorder, but it has many applications.

“I worked with a man who had a phobia of hospitals. He was so frightened he would faint. He learned a variety of skills including anchoring a ‘safe place’ that he could access when he felt stressed along with reprocessing the trauma from his childhood.

“I’ve since heard from him and he was able to go into hospital for a routine procedure and remained calm and confident.

“I also treated a man who suffered anxiety, depression, chronic insomnia and OCD. We worked together for a few months and his life was completely different. He had a part time job, was sleeping through the night, felt positive about the future and had even started dating someone.

“The medical field, including mental health professionals, are becoming more accepting of hypnotherapy as an effective treatment modality.

“There is a plethora of research showing its efficacy for pain, surgery and childbirth and recently more studies have focused on mental health,” said Ms Robb.


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Haley Williams

Haley Williams has a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism and over a decade of experience in the media, marketing and communications industries.

She is a widely published journalist with a particular interest in writing magazine features on parenting, health, fitness, nutrition and education.

Before becoming a freelance journalist, Haley worked as a writer for NeoLife (a worldwide nutrition company), News Limited and APN News & Media.

Haley also has extensive experience as an SEO Content Writer and Digital Marketing Strategist.